a ball in the frying pan, swirled it in the gravy, inserted it into her mouth. As her face contorted, down the hall a door opened. Burell floated out on her yellow armchair.
Her jaw frozen in midchew, Isabelle exchanged a worried glance with Galen. Burell had not been sleeping well since they returned, and though she hid it well, Galen sensed that her condition was worsening. Isabelle's concern confirmed it.
Burell wore an elegant golden robe, her hair and makeup fixed immaculately in the illusion. Galen wished they had not awakened her. It was 4 a.m. They'd left the lounge at 1 a.m. to begin working on the breen project. The Khatkhata was scheduled to leave port at 4 p.m.
"What's going on out here?" She swirled around the counter into the kitchen. "I smell"-her face wrinkled up- "something."
Galen explained the situation while Isabelle chewed.
Burell took a look into the frying pan, then retreated several feet. "So you're using chemical equivalents to the Narn ingredients, and trying to reproduce the texture through processing."
Isabelle nodded, a lump still visible in her cheek.
"But how do you know if you've got it right?"
"We've found descriptions in the foremost Narn culinary texts," Galen said. "We're matching appearance and consistency with them."
Burell took in the mess that they had made. "I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but a book is not going to tell you if you've made good breen. Narns are fanatical about it. They've written love poems to their breen. If it's not exactly right, they won't touch it. The only way to know if you've got it right is to have a Narn test it."
As soon as she'd said it, Galen knew she was right. They'd been fooling themselves into thinking they could do it on their own.
Isabelle looked from Burell